Nikki, Community development officer: Devonport, Tasmania
Nikki has made a career of helping the vulnerable to put a roof over their heads and to re-establish their community connections. She worked for Housing NSW as a homeless outreach worker in disadvantaged inner city areas of Sydney, where homelessness was a visible, daily reality. Four years as an allocations officer with Housing Tasmania in the north-west followed, then Nikki joined Housing Choices Tasmania in 2014 as a Community development officer.
Bullied at school and forced to leave home as a 19-year-old student in Wollongong due to a difficult family situation, Nikki has walked in the shoes of many of her clients. “I ended up not having a home and having to rely on friends and I basically had all my stuff in the car and I was couch-surfing and going from home to home and it was a very unsettling time in my life.”
Her role with Housing Choices Tasmania can be tough but rewarding, Nikki says. “What I love about my job is that I get to connect to people socially and help build capacity within communities, to build confidence that people can do things themselves. I also love getting people out of their homes to explore other things in the community and to link with services or to link with other residents.”
“Sometimes as a worker, it is okay to show the human side to you. I would hope that my clients would see me as someone with compassion who is genuinely interested in what they have to say.” A supportive partner and two young stepdaughters fill her hours outside work and give new meaning to the word “family”.